More than 130 cats were rescued this week from a Houston home inhabited by two elderly sisters. After an anonymous complaint filed Thursday, police officers were joined by a team of animal cruelty investigators and entered the property to discover a pair of hoarding twin sisters, more than 100 ailing house cats, and feline feces galore.
“We have rescued all sorts of different animals before; dogs, cats, exotics,” SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) spokeswoman Meera Nandlal said. “This one was really up there.” Upon entrance, there was trash and fecal matter everywhere. There were overflowing litter boxes, the pets had defecated on piles of paper and furniture all around the house, and there was random detritus haphazardly strewn about the living room. The breakfast nook in the kitchen, which was reportedly the cleanest area of the house, was said to be knee-deep in fecal matter.
“I’ve never seen the inside of a house look like this. Never in my life. And I thought I’d seen a lot of things until I saw this today,” stated a retired homicide investigator on the scene.
Mounds of feces were piled four feet high in the garage. Some of the pets borrowed into the mounds to hide. Nandlal said the aroma of ammonia from the urine and the feces was evident from the sidewalk. Officers wore gas masks as they combed through the house looking for the animals, corralling them out of hiding spaces. Their efforts took hours. One of the sisters looked on with a hand over her mouth as rescuers crated her cats and packed them away in the vans.
The majority of the animals were in very poor health. A decomposing cat body was found on the bathroom floor. Some of the animals were emaciated and balding, while others had severely harsh upper respiratory infections, which caused blood to gush from their noses and caused a variety of eye problems. All of the animals were transported to SPCA for medical attention.
The twin sisters, both in their 60s, who were hoarding the cats and rubbish galore were encouraged by officials to find somewhere else to live for now. One sister went to stay with a niece, while the other was taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation after officers discovered she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. No charges have been placed on the sisters, but officials are trying to get them help.
According one neighbor, the sisters kept their litter of cats quiet. They recognized that the house and yard were a bit run down, but they did not expect to see the number of felines that were unloaded from the house. Another neighbor was sympathetic to the challenge of taking care of so many house pets, he said the sisters “tried their best to take care of them but when you have that many animals you can only do so much for them.”
Since the rescue of the cats galore, the pets have been vaccinated and received the necessary veterinary care, and the hoarding twin sisters are being assisted by Adult Protective Services. According to Nandlal, she says it depends on the judicial disposition, but the SPCA will do their best to place the cats in loving homes.
By Stacy Feder